Saddle Creek's Slowdown project can't came fast enough
story by tim mcmahan
Lazy-i: June 29, 2005
Slowdown, Saddle Creek Record's proposed bar/office/concert
facility, took one step closer to reality last Thursday when the
project was officially announced at a joint press conference between
label executives and Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey.
It seems like only yesterday (even though it was last October)
that Saddle Creek Records operators Jason Kulbel
and Robb Nansel were being chased out of a Metcalf
Park neighborhood association meeting by an angry mob dead-set
on preventing Slowdown from being developed at 1528 N. Saddle Creek
Rd. A month later and the project seemed dead. But just when all
hope seemed lost, the City in the form of former Planning Director
Bob Peters and planning department official Ken Johnson helped the
label find a new home, in an area that's awkwardly being been nicknamed
"NoDo" -- as in Omaha's North Downtown redevelopment district.
The actual location is a piece of property bounded by 13th and
14th Sts., and Webster and Cuming Sts. The Slowdown project will
- A 400-capacity, 2,000+ sq. ft. music hall / club with state-of-the-art
- A 2,230 sq. ft. bar adjacent to the concert space, and
- Warehouse, offices and meeting facilities for the record label.
But that's not all. The overall project
includes a two-screen independent movie theater called Filmstreams
run by entrepreneur and NYU grad Rachel Jacobson, seven retail spaces
(managed by Saddle Creek), and a 32-unit condominium complex developed
and managed by Bluestone.
Kulbel said Saddle Creek purchased the 35,000 sq. ft. property
at $7 per sq. ft. -- a price that City Spokesman Joe Gudenrath said
was established by a real estate appraisal. Financial incentives
are being offered in Tax Increment Financing -- or TIF. Kulbel said
TIF is a form of tax relief where any money used toward the purchase
and public-benefit improvements can be offset in futures taxes.
"Projects like Destination Midtown and the Tip-Top/InPlay project
wouldn't have happened without TIF," Kulbel said. "It's
not a huge amount of money, but it can be a deal-breaker without
Kulbel said the Slowdown facility -- which will employ between
20 and 25 part-time workers -- isn't much different than what was
proposed at the Metcalf Park location. Plans call for the lounge
to be open daily regardless of scheduled shows in the "big
Local concert promoter One Percent Productions
will be involved in booking bands at the club. "They'll continue
to have the same role that they have now around town," Kulbel
said. "It would be crazy for us to shut them out, if only for
simplicity's sake. They've got great contacts."
He said the club will "be a showcase for music that we like
and the people we like," including both national touring and
local acts. That would indicate that Slowdown will be in direct
competition with Sokol Underground, a popular 320-capacity venue
in South Omaha also booked by One Percent. Kulbel said there's plenty
of room for both venues to thrive.
"There's room for ten 400-capacity clubs in this town,"
he said. "If anything, we could use a couple more. Ideally,
we want to get to the point where we can book exactly the shows
we want and have room for clubs to book other shows."
Click thumbnails for larger images (PDFs).
"Ideally, we want to get to the point
where we can book exactly the shows we want and have room
for clubs to book other shows."
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"If we get everything enclosed by
winter, we could be moving our offices in the spring and open
Though a (non-corporate) pizza vendor
has been selected for the restaurant, no other business has committed
to moving into the proposed retail spaces yet, Kulbel said. "I
would like to see something like a clothing store in one or two,
maybe a coffee shop. If record stores weren't such a thing of the
past, I'd like to see one of those, but downtown already is covered
So when will Slowdown open? Kulbel couldn't say for sure. "It's
so open-ended," he said. "If we get everything enclosed
by winter, we could be moving our offices in the spring and open
shortly afterward. But if we don't get it enclosed, it could be
over a year from now."
Dealing with city politics has slowed progress, he said. Though
the land has been surveyed, soil tests have only just been ordered,
and it could take more than 60 days before results are in hand.
Those results could mean the difference between immediately driving
footings and any necessary remediation by the city.
Published in The Omaha Reader June 29, 2005.
Copyright © 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.